I’m well and truly on the World Cup bandwagon and I am not ashamed to admit it. Yep, I’m a fair weather football fan. I don’t know my Ronaldo from my Messi, but I have been perfecting my Viking Thunder Clap and I have also discovered an incredible belief that my homeland Australia is perpetually robbed by bad refereeing decisions.
I do love a carnival and that’s what the World Cup is. It’s also a great opportunity to eat some great food in even better company. For me, there are three key ingredients to a good viewing experience:
- Smoke free – so many venues in this city leave me and my clothes stinking
- Well priced drinks – alcohol in this town is expensive and frankly, it doesn’t always have to be that way. A decent happy hour or special offer is a winning strategy.
- Great food – sport and food are a match made in heaven. Props to those venues making a real effort with their menus this year.
I have been using this new-found football obsession to actually eat my way around the city’s sports bars and restaurants.Here are my top three scorers for those who value the food as much as the final score:
Best for: Groups of friends
For football fans there are three main options at the city’s newest hotspot but by far my favorite is the casual key Hudson Tavern. Family friendly and smoke free (the bar and restaurant area separated and the hotel has put in extra exhausted fans to ensure it’s comfortable), it has a QR150 free flow of drinks during matches and its usual menu of well executed comfort food (the Hot Chicken burger is a thing of beauty) and a genuine great vibe. There are no bookings so get there early for a good table (it’s QR150 minimum spend per table but this can be used against any food or drink purchases). For something more private also check out the set up at Walima – private majlis (with a minimum spend of QR500 for the table), you and a group of friends can enjoy the game and feast on their Qatari-inspired menu. Rise on the rooftop is more the VIP experience and for QR350 you can enjoy free flow of drinks and food.
What to order:The French Burger (droooool) and the envy inducing nachos.
Happy hour: Daily from 3pm to 7pm
Best for:Family footy fun
If you aren’t already a fan of Stockburger, then we can’t be friends. Smoke-free (there is a smoking terrace) and very kid friendly, this place is made for watching big games in comfort. Happy hour starts from 12pm and they also have a private viewing box for that hard core fan experience. Doha needs more places like this, especially out of the West Bay loop.
What to order: chilli glazed shrimps, the sticky chicken wings and the Airport Street Burger (laden with mushrooms and special sauce!)
Happy hour: Daily from 12pm
Best for: Foodies who are also footy fans
Rowdy this place is not but you are guaranteed a clear view of the TV and some excellent food in a plush environment. Also, when things aren’t going to plan on the pitch there is always the view to distract you. The bar opens one hour before the first game of the day so you have time to get settled in, order up and assess the form. Not entirely smoke-free, but spacious enough for this to be not much of a problem.
What to order:Andalusian style baby calamari, hand cut chips and the merguez corn dogs (you heard me)
Happy hour: Pull up a chair because this is gooood: QR120 for a bucket of four beers, QR320 for two bottles of wine or QR990 for a bottle of vodka and mixers.
Special mentions: W Doha does these big events so well and this year is no exception. Wahm is the epicenter of their events this year. Best to book ahead to ensure you get a cabana or seat on their covered terrace and they open from 5pm. La Liga Lounge in Hotel Park seems tailor-made for this. They do serve alcohol and the food is also good. Try the nachos or the seafood paella for something more substantial. A minimum spend of QR150 per person and is also smoke free. Trader Vics Doha (they of the lethal cocktails and fun vibe) have also just opened their new extension and is worth a look.